Health Benefits of Watermelon – Lose Weight, Lower Blood Pressure, and More
The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry has published findings from a joint research effort between scientists at the University of Kentucky and Purdue University regarding the health benefits of watermelon – that sweet summer favorite. According to researchers on the team, watermelon, native to South Africa, contains a number of influential substances including citrulline, a compound thought to protect against atherosclerosis. This high water content fruit is also touted for its ability to help with weight management. Watermelon is just another fruit, in a long line of researched fruits, including berries and apples that have proven effective in the promotion of health and protection from cardiovascular disease, cancer and stroke.
Citrulline Prevents Heart Disease by Reducing Arterial Plaque Volume
Researchers used mice to mimic human biochemistry and found that a diet that included watermelon juice and fresh watermelon was highly beneficial to increasing cardiovascular health. When the study group was compared to the control group, it was determined that the citrulline in watermelon lowered dangerous levels of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol that had been attacked by free radicals. The amount of plaque build up on arterial walls was reduced, as was the overall animal weight.
Both the study group and the control group consumed a diet that was high in cholesterol and saturated fat. However, one group of mice drank water containing 2% watermelon juice while the other group drank water that contained a carbohydrate solution the same as watermelon juice. Oxidized LDL cholesterol levels were reduced by 50% in the group of mice that drank watermelon juice. These finding were similar to those found by researchers at Ohio State University who found apples lowered oxidized LDL cholesterol, as well.
Of even greater significance, the group that consumed a solution of only 2% watermelon juice showed a staggering 50% drop in their arterial plaque in addition to a high amount of citrulline circulating throughout their bodies.
More Health Benefits of Watermelon – Lose Weight
The study reported further good news when researchers discovered that mice that received the watermelon juice supplement gained 30% less weight than the control mice. More research from the University of Kentucky also pinpointed watermelon to be among foods for weight loss, finding that animals experiencing diet-induced high cholesterol given watermelon juice lost more abdominal fat than animals fed the same diet but with water.
Watermelon Lowers Blood Pressure Naturally
The health benefits of watermelon don’t stop at weight loss and protection from heart disease – the fruit can also help lower your blood pressure naturally.
Earlier studies found that 4 grams of watermelon extract per day reduced systolic blood pressure but recorded no change in heart rate in adults with prehypertension and hypertension.
But more recent research involved 14 adults with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension. The two groups took 6 grams or a placebo daily for six weeks. A two-week washout period followed before a crossover to the other intervention group. Researchers cited amino acids l-citrulline and l-arginine in the watermelon extract for the reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the arm of 15.1 and 7.6 mmHg, respectively, compared to the placebo. Diastolic BP reduced by 7.6 and 7.8 mmHg on the same sites.
All Eyes Are on Watermelon
More research is needed to determine at which molecular level watermelon is working to produce its health promoting benefits. Clearly, watermelon is a fruit that deserves attention among other raw foods recognized for their ability to fight off chronic disease.
Sadly over 20% of watermelon, crops are wasted each year, according to Shubin Saha, a professor of surgery at the University of Kentucky. Fruit that doesn’t look good enough to go to market would still be useful in the making of health-promoting solutions. In the meantime, consuming low calorie and sweet tasting watermelon three times a week along with a diet high in whole foods may reduce the risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease.
Experience the health benefits of watermelon today!